Mithali-Powar saga: Deep fissures surface in Indian T20 team

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HYDERABAD: The Mithali Raj-Ramesh Powar saga continues to get murkier by the day as Indian women T20 team captain Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana’s appeal to the BCCI to retain the services of coach Powar has further fuelled the sordid drama.
After the controversy broke out, the BCCI had decided not to give Powar an extension and it looked that the matter would be put to rest but the latest episode has only opened up a can of worms. The appeal has only brought to fore the deep fissure that seems to be prevalent in the Indian T20 team.
Why are Harmanpreet and Mandhana so openly rooting for Powar’s retention? Are the players by backing Powar, who has been accused by Mithali of ill-treating her, giving the star cricketer a thumbs down? Is it that they are uncomfortable with the presence of Mithali in the team?
Or is there a larger conspiracy in the whole issue which is not being probed by the BCCI for reasons best known to it? Has Mithali made herself persona non-grata by taking on CoA Diana Edulji? Are Powar, Harmanpreet and Mandhana being used to get even with the Hyderabad player?
Former India player Sanjay Manjrekar hit the bull’s eye by tweeting, “Harmanpreet needs reminding that when Powar was not coach India reached the finals of the WC and almost won it. By suggesting that if Powar is removed we have to start from scratch is an exaggeration of any coach’s role in the team.”
Mithali, who is in Guntur with the Indian Railways team, has refused to be further drawn into the episode. Her family too has remained tight-lipped as it is felt that it will be highly ‘unprofessional’ on their part to comment on the issue. However, sources said that they are deeply hurt by the entire episode.
“Mithali being dropped for the semifinal is not the real issue. Her ill-treatment by the coach is what has rankled the family. After having served the country for almost two decades, this is not what they had expected,” a source said.
“If Mithali doesn’t fit into the scheme of things why haven’t the selectors taken her into confidence? Why has she been made to feel so deflated and depressed by the coach? Why are the players backing the coach? Why is there a problem with the T20 team only?” asked the source and added that the BCCI should order a fair probe into the entire episode to unearth the truth.
Sources said the whole conspiracy against Mithali was hatched in Mumbai and executed in the West Indies. “Why hasn’t Powar answered Mithali’s accusations against him? Neither has he refuted any of the allegations in his reply to the BCCI?” RSR Murthy, coach of the South Central Railway team, said and added that it is obvious that Powar on his own wouldn’t behave in such a manner unless he is backed by some powerful forces in the board.
Murthy said that Harmanpreet is not new to controversy and is also known to be found wanting as a captain. “Tushar Arothe had to resign after the Asia T20 Cup under mysterious circumstances. Harmanpreet is also involved in a fake certificate issue. This just shows that the skipper is not averse to hitting below the belt if needed,” he said.